The future of BMW lighting will see lasers replace LEDs in just a couple of years.
Of all the ConnectedDrive technologies that BMW recently detailed, most won't be available until our driving licenses expire due to old age. However, according to BMW optical systems designer Hanafi Abdul who spoke with Inside Line, in the next couple of years BMW vehicles will be fitted with laser headlights. The technology is currently ready for production, and debuted on the i8 supercar concept, but BMW are waiting for the correct application before it starts to replace LEDs across the board.
The system, developed in collaboration with Nichia in Japan, is claimed to be 1,000 times brighter and 100 times smaller than traditional square cells that are used in LED lighting. The major benefits of this are that designers will have more freedom with the front-end styling as the space required for conventional headlights will suddenly become freed-up. Abdul also said that the laser is twice as efficient as the LED system and thus will reduce fuel consumption considerably. Finally, as it is already being used in medical and military applications, no safety or legislative concerns need be addressed.
The system works via a photonic process, where gallium nitride is used to create a blue laser light, which is converted to a pure white light with the aid of a phosphor disc that is completely safe to humans, animals and nature. The laser headlights, which a life of 10,000 hours, will function in line with other optical technologies as part of the ConnectedDrive framework with the aim of maximizing drivers' visuals. A Dynamic Light Spot system under development is a prime example, which uses sensors to identify and light up pedestrians and animals in the road.